Composites-reinforced electrical cable certified in China

Mercury's high-voltage, composite-reinforced conductors for electrical transmission lines have been certified in the China marketplace by the Shanghai Research Institute.

Mercury Cable & Energy (MC&E, Dana Point, Calif.), the developer of the High-Voltage Composite-Reinforced Conductor (HVCRC), also known as Smart Conductor, for electric utility transmission lines, has announced receipt of certification by the Shanghai Research Institute for its Drake-size conductors installed in the China marketplace (“Drake” is an industry term referring to the cable’s size; all conductor cables have informal bird names). Certification was performed on behalf of China State Grid and China Southern Grid, China’s two state-owned electric power transmission companies.

“Mercury Cable’s Drake HVCRC conductor achieved the highest performance level of any conductor ever tested, including all previous composite conductors,” stated Huang Guo-fei, chief engineer at the Shanghai Research Institute. “We are recommending Mercury’s HVCRC Smart Conductors as the leading solution for China’s urgent demand for electrical power distribution.” Tests conducted at the Shanghai Re-search Institute on MC&E’s Smart Conductor included room-temperature tensile strength, high-temperature tensile strength, direct current resistance, ampacity (current-carrying capacity), sag tension, corrosion, water absorption and aeolian vibration.

MC&E previously announced (Dec. 12, 2008) that it had, through its operating subsidiary, entered into a long-term production agreement with General Cable Industries Inc. (Highland Heights, Ky.). The latter reportedly will perform stranding of MC&E’s composite cores in support of manufacture and sale of HVCRC cable in both North America and China.

According to MC&E documentation, HVCRC replaces the internal steel core in conventional Aluminum Cable Steel Reinforced (ACSR) conductors with a high-strength composite core. The HVCRC core is wound with trapezoid-shaped strands of aluminum wire to optimize its current-carrying capability. Reportedly, the Smart Conductor does not sag appreciably as its temperature increases — its operating temperature is 180°C/356°F, compared with 80°C/176°F for ACSR. Accordingly, the company says that Smart Conductor can carry more current than can a comparably sized ACSR. Additionally, HVCRC weighs less than ACSR, permitting installation of extra cables on existing towers. MC&E says the cable’s low weight and trapezoidal strand configuration could allow for transmission capacity of up to two times that now possible through the present ACSR grid. Further, use of the composite core extends the cable’s expected service life by eliminating the risk of corrosive galvanic reaction between the aluminum conductor and steel cores caused by salt, humidity and air pollutants.

“We are very excited at the completion of certification in our largest market,” stated Todd Harris, president of MC&E. “We will begin taking orders from China Southern Grid and China State Grid immediately to help fulfill their urgent power demands.”

The company’s staff includes Dr. Terry S. McQuarrie and Michael A. Winterhalter, former employees of W. Brandt Goldsworthy & Assoc., whose founder, Brandt Goldsworthy, is generally credited with the development of the composite-cored conductor cable concept, then known as CRAC (Composite-Reinforced Aluminum Conductor). Notably, MC&E also employs parties previously involved with efforts to commercialize in China a similar product developed by a competitor, Composite Technology Corp. (CTC, Irvine, Calif.). The latter also employs several ex-Goldsworthy associates who left the firm after the founder’s death. Subsequently, composite-cored conductor cables were the subject of legal actions between CTC and remaining Goldsworthy employees. In the end, CTC ultimately gained control over intellectual property with regard to the CRAC cable. Since then, CTC has been engaged in developing and marketing a conductor cable under the name ACCC (Aluminum Conductor Composite Core) and, according to CTC press announcements, has closed cable installation deals in China, Mexico and Kansas.

Current efforts on the part of both companies could be affected, however, by the outcome of other, still pending litigation: CTC brought suit Aug. 15, 2008, in California Superior Court against MC&E and others, which brought countersuit, both sides alleging a variety of faults with respect to CTC’s marketing efforts in China, including breach of contract and fraud.

Read more about composite reinforced conductor cables in CT February 2006 (p. 24) or visit www.compositesworld.com/go.aspx?id=52264.